Friday, October 26, 2007

Oborne on 18DS

If you can't be bothered to read Peter Oborne's masterwork The Triumph of the Political Class, you should at least watch him being interviewed about it by Iain Dale on 18 Doughty Street.

Oborne's analysis of the ills of current-day politics and journalism is spot-on and, in the light of recent events, his bewailing of the tendency of career politicians to come into the House without any previous experience of life is particularly topical.

This point is usually made in relation to people with no experience of running a business. Indeed Dale himself makes that very point in his interview. Oborne however reminds us that it is not just a lack of business experience we are talking about here but a lack of any sort of experience outside of machine politics.

Military experience is a good example. During the latter stages of World War 2, the Allies staged an amphibious landing in the area of Anzio, Italy, intended to outflank the Axis forces and enable an attack on Rome. The Military Landing Officer for the British assault brigade at Anzio was Major Denis Healey, who went on to become possibly our most distinguished postwar Defence Secretary from 1964-70.

My fellow Newcastle Journal columnist, Denise Robertson, recently expressed her frustration at the downgrading of experience as a political virtue with her own characteristic bluntness.

"I thought Cameron had a nerve standing for leader of his party after four years in the Commons. Now Clegg and Huhne are doing it after two, while some Labour ministers look as if they are still shaving their bum-fluff."

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Anonymous said...

National Service call-ups ended for people born in 1939. The last war was over in 1945. Hardly surprising that fewer people in politics have military experience, given that fewer people who are outside politics have it as well.

Do a study on political successes and disasters and cross-reference with experience in 'real world' jobs and you find no connection whatsoever; the 'professional politicians' are just as likely to be successful or to produce a failure.

Liam Murray said...

Great minds etc. - I posted from a similar angle this morning although I think there's a danger experience if overstated at the expense of conviction.

p.s. loved the counter-factual stuff by the way.

Anonymous said...

Intersting debate. Reading the profile of Ed Balls (one of my bete noires, I must admit) in "The Telegraph" I was surprised to find that he joined the "Financial Times" straight from University as a leader writer.
So not only did he not sully his hands by training in provincial journalism before joining a national, he didn't even have any reporting experience before commenting.
At least Boris Johnson did a stint as a reporter - I met him once at the TUC when we were both reporting on it.